The Thames River
The Thames River has gone through a history of neglect and terrible pollution, then rebound into a river that was cleaned up significantly. London has a history of dumping its raw sewage into the Thames River. By the early 1700s, nearly every home in London had a cesspit beneath it and the commensurate foul odors. Raw sewerage went directly into the Thames, which was also used for drinking water. In the late 1800’s the river became so toxic from human waste that when the SS Princess Alice went down, hundreds died after being in the polluted Thames. Drastic action was needed following the ‘Great Stink’ of 1858 when the smell was so bad that the problem reached crisis point.
The RiverBlue crew was in London to interview Debbie Leach from the Thames 21 Group. Her interview is featured in RiverBlue’s Encounters With series and explores the role the community plays in the health of the River. When time is dedicated to cleaning up the world’s rivers, health of the oceans is also improved, because 80% of the garbage in the oceans flows in from rivers. Debbie Leach describes the Thames River clean-up as a global movement and by sharing the positive transformation of the River Thames, what worked and what hasn’t worked, then other communities around the world can employ those practices with their own rivers.
The RiverBlue team also met with Peter Golding in London. Peter Golding is one of the original three godfathers of early 70’s denim design. Interviewing Peter, the team learnt about the history of denim, the creation of stretch denim and the introduction of acid washing from his perspective. Peter describes the change in the denim market today as a shift from pride in the product to a pride in the brand encouraging consumers to be more concerned with a certain brand label than the quality of the product. In turn this leads to a trend of fast fashion where trends change quickly and clothes are thrown away more frequently than ever before.
As Mark gazes over this now clean river he recalls that the Thames is a far better river today than when he was last on it 40 years ago. A local outdoor enthusiast and friend reminds Mark that the people of London have done a lot of work to get the river to this point. Thousands of people volunteer every year to clean up the banks and also the river.